Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: A Way to Maximize Your Attention Span on Things That (Actually) Matter

I know, the background is anything but minimalist.

In the age of distractions always in hand (quite literally), our minds became the victim. Thousand of things demand our attention in the matter of second. In the end, we lose attentions for things that really matter to us. 

This book by Cal Newport explains about how to maximize our own productivity, happiness, and anything that makes as human regarding to the use of technology

Newport emphasized more on what we have sacrificed in exchange to always connected with people we barely know especially on social media. Since people somehow assumed that being a digital minimalist means we’re anti-technology, he also told some stories from some other digital minimalists who work in tech industry. Not to mention that he himself using a smartphone after her wife told him so, which is a good thing since being a digital minimalist doesn’t mean using an old bulky Nokia phone.

This book also offers practical guide to minimize our digital usage like with its “30-day Digital Clutter” and some steps I found really helpful especially if we haven’t done it yet:

1. Delete Social Media App on Our Phone

I remember the days when the only way to access my Facebook account was through my PC/Desktop since I haven’t had a laptop yet. It was in high school and phones like Nokia’s Symbian and Blackberry already exist yet it felt more convenience accessing our social media on a larger screen, and only after we got home especially at night.

It only took a year or so before having an iPhone or other Android smartphone became so common. Here was Instagram when we could only access it through our phones. Being entertained and always up to date with what our friends lives started to be easy until someday, some of us realized that it’s just too much.

I had tried to delete my Social Media App especially Facebook and Twitter. Instagram, although it is also owned by the same person behind Facebook; Mark Zuckerberg, I find it is harder to resist. I had deleted my account entirely, not just deactivated it, yet I needed to make another private account only to be easier-to-reach by some of my friends only half-year after. I also made another new account for this, writing a book review where I don’t want to follow anyone just because they are friends even the closest ones.

That half-year without social media was really a great experience for me. I became more productive, reading more books, watching more movies, exercises more, and absolutely happier. I plan to delete my private account again and keep another account where I can share and connect with people who also love to read and write a review.

2. Don’t Click “Like”

“Like” and “Love” became the currency nowadays. We clicked like or love button on our friends’ vacation photos, their photos of them posing in front of cool background, their highly curated lives whether consciously or unconsciously. These became an affirmation for them to always doing the same thing, and algorithm read that as a way to make us more hooked into the system which brings more attention to them so they can sell it to advertisers. In another words, bring more money.

3. Join a Community

Joining an offline community where we can meet new people directly in flesh is absolutely one of my favorite tips what this book was told. It brings the sense of belonging into one group, which also deepen our understanding depends to the topic the community based on. I think it is also true to introverts, as long as they find a perfect community where they can feel safe, it will also give the same benefits.

4. Start Crafting

Our hands might not made only to hold our phone and accessing it through the touch of our thumb. Newport gave the context about craft as any activity where we apply skill to create something valuable. Whether it is making a new furniture, or simply just a pencil case out of an unused cardboard. Apart from that, I think it is also true to create something just for the sake of creating, as long that we’re enjoying the process. Just don’t do it only to get “likes” or “loves” on social media.

I like what this book is offering. How the writer uses various perspectives from multiple disciplines especially philosophy. Unfortunately, the book is a little bit boring since Newport always repeatedly saying what he have said.

This book almost feels like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo but here is for digital clutters. Unfortunately the points still unclear, the message kinda feel blurry and need more crafting especially on how the writer tells the stories to convey his messages. It’s like reading an half-baked script and the writer admitted that it’s the first time he wrote a practical book. I haven’t read another book of him so I’m curious and added his Deep Work to read next time.

Nevertheless, this is an interesting read and worth to discuss.

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